The emphasis of this theme is to generate value from various streams in oil sands operation. The current focus is on the value added processing of tailings from the Tailing Solvent Recovery Units (TSRU).
Mined oil sands industry uses Paraffin Froth Treatment (PFT) process to separate bitumen from water and solids. The rejected tailing stream from the tailing solvent recovery unit (TSRU) of PFT contains about 75% water, 17% minerals, 6% asphaltenes, 1% maltenes, <0.1% paraffinic solvent. There are economic and environmental benefits to convert the TSRU stream into valuable products.
Technology and Knowledge Gaps
- Methods/processes that can separate hydrocarbons (including asphaltenes and maltene) from the tailings, separate maltenes from asphaltenes, and convert asphaltenes to value-added products.
- Fundamental science for multiphase stream processing such as clean separation of hydrocarbons from mineral surfaces.
Preferred Processes and Methods
- New process concepts can consider dry (water removed) or wet TSRU as a feed.
- Low-GHG emission, non-solvent approaches.
- Chemical reactions (including bio) to enhance phase separation and product value.
- Processing to minimize waste rejection.
- Catalytic or non-catalytic reactions.
- Co-processing with other feedstocks such as CH4 or biomass.
- Recovery of solvent or bitumen components (preferably boiling below 524 oC).
- Solid carbon-based products such as graphitic carbon, and carbon black.
- Feed for chemicals synthesis, mineral products.
- Other (new) products with value.